Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/308

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Gladstone
Gladstone
296

Wigram Crawford, one of the members for the city of London, he intimated that he should not move his other amendments. But during the Easter recess a number of meetings were held to demand a thorough-going reform, and on 2 May the process of enlarging the bill was begun. Under Gladstone's guidance this was successfully accomplished. Lord Cranborne (afterwards Lord Salisbury), in an incisive speech, pointed out that the bill, as it left the House of Commons, was not Disraeli's but Gladstone's – Gladstone, he said, had demanded and obtained, first, the lodger franchise; secondly, the abolition of distinction between compounders and non-compounders; thirdly, a provision to prevent traffic in votes; fourthly, the omission of the taxing franchise; fifthly, the omission of the dual vote; sixthly, the enlargement of the distribution of seats; seventhly, the reduction of the county franchise; eighthly, the omission of voting papers; ninthly and tenthly, the omission of the educational and savings bank franchises.

On 19 Nov. 1867 parliament met for an autumn session to vote supplies for the Abyssinian expedition. Gladstone admitted that there was a good cause for war, but protested against territorial aggrandisement and the assumption of new political responsibilities. At Christmas Lord Russell retired from the leadership of the liberal party, and was succeeded by Gladstone. On 19 Feb. 1868 he moved the second reading of a bill to abolish compulsory church rates. This was read a second time without a division, and soon became law, thus putting an end to a very long and very obstinate dispute. On 26 Feb. Lord Derby resigned, from failing health, and Disraeli became prime minister. He had to govern with a minority, and was constantly defeated in the House of Commons.

On 16 March, during a four nights' debate on the state of Ireland [see Maguire, John Francis], Gladstone expressed the opinion that the Irish church as a state church must cease to exist. On the 23rd he gave notice of three resolutions, declaring that the church of Ireland should be disestablished and disendowed, and the exercise of public patronage in it at once suspended to avoid the creation of new vested interests. Instead of meeting these resolutions with a direct negative, or with the previous question, Lord Stanley, on behalf of ministers, proposed an amendment that the subject should be left for the new parliament to deal with. On 30 March Gladstone moved that the house should go into committee on his resolutions, and in his speech explained his own personal attitude. He had never, he said, since 1845, adhered to the principle of the Irish establishment. His policy was to pass only a suspensory bill in that parliament, leaving the whole question of disestablishment and disendowment to be decided by the next. After a long debate the house, by a majority of fifty-six, determined to go into committee on the resolutions. There was by this time a great deal of interest out of doors, and meetings on both sides were held during the Easter recess. At one of them, in St. James's Hall, Lord Russell presided, and spoke strongly in favour of Irish disestablishment, adding an eloquent eulogy of Gladstone as his successor. On 27 April Gladstone moved his first resolution in favour of disestablishment, and argued that, so far as the church of England was concerned, a bad establishment did not strengthen, but weakened, a good one. After three nights' debate the resolution was carried by a majority of sixty-five, and Disraeli asked for time to reconsider the position of the government. On 4 May he made a rather obscure statement in the House of Commons, which was understood to mean that he had offered the queen the alternative of dissolving parliament in the autumn, or of accepting his resignation. Her majesty had refused the resignation, but had given her assent to an autumn dissolution. Strong protests were made against bringing in the queen's name. Gladstone strenuously objected to the holding of a dissolution over the house as a menace. His remaining resolutions were adopted without a division, and, in reply to the third, her majesty assented to placing her own patronage in the Irish church at the disposal of parliament.

On 23 May Gladstone moved the second reading of the suspensory bill, explaining that with disestablishment the Maynooth grant to the catholics and the regium donum to the presbyterians would cease. The second reading was carried by a majority of fifty-four. But, in the House of Lords, where Lord Carnarvon supported it, and Lord Salisbury, who had recently succeeded his father, opposed it, it was rejected by ninety-five.

Parliament was prorogued on 31 July 1868, and was dissolved on 11 Nov., the registration having been accelerated by statute so as to enable the new electors to vote. The great question before the country was the disestablishment of the Irish church, and the popular verdict, the first taken under household suffrage, was decisive, the liberal majority being 115. Disraeli, making a sen-